Paula Radcliffe has tipped Jessica Ennis-Hill to come back better than ever after being forced out of the World Championships by injury.
It is the second major championships that Ennis-Hill has had to sit out, having missed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 with stress fractures to navicular and metatarsal bones in her right foot.
She bounced back from those injuries to be crowned world champion the following year in Berlin and Radcliffe, the women’s world marathon record holder, insists she can do the same following her latest setback with an Achilles and heel complaint. “Jess is a phenomenal athlete and I’ve no doubt she’ll be back to the very top,” said Radcliffe, who is well versed in injuries, having endured a litany of problems during her career. “She’ll come back stronger.”
Ennis-Hill had been one of Britain’s leading medal hopes going into the championships, which get under way a week on Saturday. But Radcliffe insisted it was important to focus on the athlete’s long-term future rather than the here and now. “She’s made the right decision, the only decision, that her health must come first,” said Radcliffe. “I have every sympathy with her. I know she’s been through this before and I also know that it never gets any easier.
“Jess will be absolutely gutted right now but she just has to put things in perspective, to sit down and look at how great a year she had last year and that she has so much more ahead of her.”
Ennis-Hill won the heptathlon at last year’s London Olympics by more than 300 points with a tally of 6,955, which eclipsed Denise Lewis’s previous British record. The Olympic champion’s sights will now be on next season, when the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow at the end of July and August’s European Athletics Championships in Zurich are the two major potential competitions.
“What’s tough is that she’s worked really hard to get into shape for this year but she needs to maintain that, work on other things and focus on getting the injury better,” added Radcliffe.
“It’s interesting to see how much better she can become. Even when she was competing below her best in London at the weekend you still didn’t watch her and think she’s got absolutely no hope to win back the title in Moscow.”